It barely seems yesterday I was excited about the Hewlett Packard laptop I bought right about the time my work level picked up. The previous Samsung I had was four years old and on the verge of death (quite literally, a subsequent attempt at a disk scrub revealed a critical hard disk failure). In fact, that HP purchases was nearly three years ago.
But all good things must come to an end. Although the HP was not on its last legs, it was clearly way past its best. It was slower than it used to be; sometimes it would take a good five minutes to open up the login screen after waking from a sleep. It got warm quite quickly too. It wasn’t particularly slow, but it was slower than it used to be and it was overheating. Not good when I need it to perform well for 8 hours per day.
I’d known by the summer that this was the financial year I would get a new one, and not one of the same price range. I wanted some longevity and a bit of juice. That’s why I decided to go for a Dell after learning that Samsung no longer sell laptops in the UK (boo!). This model has several advantages over the HP.
Solid State Drive
Oh, how did I ever live without this technology before now? When I finally decided on this model I have now (a Vostro 15), I was offered the choice of a 500GB standard hard disk or a 128GB SSD for the same price. I scratched my head – what could they possibly say to justify charging the same price for such little capacity? Well let me tell you, this thing runs like a dream. It’s super quick to start up and because it has no moving parts, it runs much cooler than a standard hard disk and that leads to the real advantage of SSDs for freelancers…
When I bought the HP, the battery lasted about 4-5 hours. Of course, that lifespan dropped considerably over time. When you’re charging it 2-3 times per day in the course of your work, it will eventually wear out. I couldn’t get an official replacement battery as HP stopped producing that model and, for some reason, that battery type. The cheaper battery I got gave me about 3 hours battery life max, but typically 2.5 and that was never ideal.
The battery on this Dell lasts for an average of 9 hours. Yes, you read that right: 9 hours or 540 minutes. That means I get practically a whole day of work from a single charge which is great if you are on an energy saving electricity plan such as Economy 7 (as I am). My electricity bill will go down too. But wait… what happens if I forget to charge it during the cheaper hours or run out of juice a little early?
I suspect these will become the norm over the next few years but when I purchased my new Dell laptop, one of the recommended accessories was something called a “Power Companion”. Essentially it’s a spare power cell that plugs into the mains that you can carry around with you and don’t need to shut the machine off to switch the battery around. it also has two USB connections to plug in other mobile devices. It’s possible to charge both the power companion and the laptop at the same time. That means I get to store a charge’s worth of battery power on my cheaper rate. It’s also useful if I get caught short while travelling or outside. Which brings me to…
Use it Outside
Long have I yearned to be able to work outside but the computer screen (as well as my Kindle Fire and my Galaxy Note smartphone) is not conducive to that. It’s the reason I bought a Kindle Paperwhite this autumn ahead of my holiday instead of struggling on with my Fire. Yeah, I know, first world problems and all that. But the great thing about this Dell is that the screen is a matte finish. I can work outside and I’m looking forward to the spring when I can do just that. Even when working inside, I no longer have to work in a dark room just to be able to see what I’m doing.